Rotorua police area commander Inspector Bruce Horne will retire at the end of this year after 36 years in the New Zealand Police.
Mr Horne will soon hang up his police hat for the last time after announcing his retirement to staff and community leaders this afternoon.
Mr Horne will officially retire on December 31 but will hand over the reins to an acting area commander from Monday to ensure a smooth transition.
Mr Horne said in a statement he and wife, Dee, had been discussing his possible retirement for more than 12 months, but it had taken a full year to weigh up the decision.
"This has been a difficult decision, and it is not one that we have made lightly," Mr Horne said.
"Moving to Rotorua turned out to be a great move for our family for so many reasons. We have come to love this community with a passion and we are extremely committed to it. Our children have grown up here, we have made our lives here and we want to stay here.
"I'm at an age and stage of life when I want to explore new opportunities. I can't be Rotorua area commander forever, and my next opportunity in police would probably require a move out of the region which is a move that we do not wish to make.
"I'm not completely sure what the next opportunity will be, but I am very commited to Rotorua and hope that I will be able to continue to serve this community in some way."
Mr Horne said one of the defining highlights of his time as Rotorua police area commander had been the ongoing support from the local community, and particularly from local staff.
"One of the most difficult parts of this decision has been the prospect of losing that daily contact with the fantastic staff I have the pleasure of working with. That, and the wonderful opportunities the job presents to make a positive difference in our community.
"Although I might be leaving the police, my commitment to the community and local staff remains and I look forward to continuing to support them in some capacity in the future."
Mr Horne said he had many highlights from his police career, including singlehandedly capturing three armed robbers when a patrol constable in Porirua (for which was presented a Commissioner's Gold Merit Award); six years with the Wellington Drug Squad; being involved in the resolution of a number of serious crimes during his years as a detective; modernising the recruit training programme; and seeing Rotorua police develop a "supportive, nurturing and values based culture" following the difficult years around the Commission of Inquiry.
Another career highlight was his involvement with the Armed Offenders Squad (AOS), both as a tactical operator in Wellington and later as the Officer in Charge of the Rotorua AOS.
"Leading the AOS was a fantastic experience and presented a lot of professional challenges - but also a wonderful opportunity to keep your operational skills sharp.
"One of the most difficult situations we dealt with was a family violence-related incident in Taupo in 2006. We went there to save her - but were unable to do so. It was extremely tough for everyone involved."
Mr Horne said he drew a lot of satisfaction from the improvements that had been made in respect of the police service response and support for family violence - something he said could not have been achieved without the support of iwi and community partners.
"We have made some great advances - but there is still an awful lot to be done and I will continue to lend personal support to initiatives such as White Ribbon, E Tu Whanau and Roots of Empathy."
His greatest highlight had been the passion, commitment and outstanding skills of the Rotorua police team, he said.
"The results they achieve on a daily basis are incredible and they do not receive enough recognition for the fantastic work they do. They are a tight and supportive group who work together well - and that is one of the keys to their success.
"I take great heart from the knowledge that Rotorua has such a fantastic team of people who are its local police."
He said he was looking forward to having a good break over summer and spending time with his family - and away from operational duties - before deciding on his next steps.
Bay of Plenty District Commander Andy McGregor said in a statement that on behalf of the police he would like to thank Mr Horne for his many dedicated years of service to the community and to the organisation.
He said Inspector Steve Bullock was to act as area commander over the next two months.
"Bruce has enjoyed a long and distinguished career, including more than 13 years in Rotorua, and we wish him and his family all the best with his retirement.
"I'd also like to acknowledge the work Bruce has done to make Rotorua a better and safer place for all, including his efforts with local iwi and other community providers to both reduce the impact of family violence, and to improve police service to the victims of family violence," Mr McGregor said.
INSPECTOR BRUCE HORNE'S CAREER
Mr Horne graduated from the Police College in 1980 as part of the No.24 General Poanga Cadet Wing - the last wing to graduate from the old Trentham Police College. He has worked in a range of different roles in Wellington and Rotorua, including stints at the Police College and Police National Headquarters.
In 1986, Mr Horne received a Commissioner's Gold Merit award, for "initiative, courage and tenacity in the location and apprehension of three armed offenders at Plimmerton on 31 December 1985".
He is married to Dee, and has four children, Kelsey, 22, Jemma, 19, and twins Mclean (Mac) and Fraser, 17.
See tomorrow's Rotorua Daily Post for an exclusive interview with Inspector Bruce Horne